Namaste out of Your Way: An Open Letter to Yogis

I love yoga. It’s probably my favorite exercise and the only one that looks appropriate for me (being covered in tattoos and often smelling of perspiration…I mean, essential oils). Just kidding, very few people who do yoga smell like BO and I, of course, look bad ass doing anything.

I’ve been practicing yoga on and off (mostly on) for almost 15 years. However much I adore the stretch, the toning, and the practice, we need to chat. There are several dos and don’t that I thought were common knowledge.

Turns out they’re not.

I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt, especially to those who are new to the practice. So, judgement-free zone coming up. But seriously, please pay attention.

Things That Are A-Okay…

1. Farting. Come on folks; you’re bending your intestines into a pretzel; that trapped gas from the beer and burger you had two days ago is going to break free faster than Michael Scofield can escape from a Mexican prison. When the wind rips (and it WILL eventually), don’t get all embarrassed, just maybe fight the urge to exclaim “TADAsana!” when it happens.

2. Modifying, so a pose or movement doesn’t hurt. Just because everyone else can do something doesn’t mean you HAVE to. Be where you are on your mat. “Meet yourself there,” as my favorite teacher says. Compete only with yourself. I still use blocks on some poses because I’ve had three kids and if I bend too far forward, I pee a little.

3. Resting when you need to. Similar to modifying, don’t be embarrassed if you can’t hold reverse triangle or pigeon or backwardbendingholyshitthissucks. Sink onto all fours and do a little cat/cow combo until you find your bearings and stop wanting to murder the instructor.

Things That Are NOT A-Okay…

1. Being on your phone. Does this need to be said? Yes. Every class I’ve taken in the last three weeks, I’ve seen someone chilling in child’s pose, tapping away on their twitter while we’re all trying to balance on one foot. I get it, I’m busy too, and emergencies happen. I have three kids, a full-time business, and a high-pressure job, and someone always needs me. But I don’t reach for my phone because I don’t want to distract people with tippy-tapping and make them fall out of tree pose. If something happened to my kids, or my husband had an emergency, someone at the gym would find me. It’s what people used to do in 1994.

2. Correcting the instructor. Yes, she called it “Goddess pose.” Yes, a variation is also called “Sunflower.” No, you don’t need to point this out as if she doesn’t know. It’s distracting for the rest of us who don’t care what the damn thing is called because we’re too busy recycling swear words in our head about how much our thighs are burning. She probably doesn’t appreciate your know-it-all attitude, either.

3. Leaving during Savasana. Really people? If you’re going to spend 55 minutes in class only to loudly fasten your Velcro shoes while the rest of us are trying to “sink into the floor that we’re pretending is sand while letting all our thoughts melt away,” then you’re an asshole. It’s the only five solid minutes I get all week of quiet; no kids yelling “Mom” until their faces turn blue, no dog wiping her butt across the carpet, no email box dinging insistently, no pot bubbling over while I answer said emails. We get to lay on the floor in blissful silence for a few precious moments, don’t ruin it for us by scuttling out early because rushing to your next destination on time is “so important” that you can’t join in.

Isn’t it ironic that yoga–a practice that helps create oneness and flowing, positive energy could stir such an outrage? Sorry about that.

Look, I love you as a human being, and we all make mistakes. But, if you know better, do better. Sure, it’s just yoga. There are bigger fish to fry and larger issues to tackle. But honor goes a long way. If I get yelled at for not wiping off a machine (even if I didn’t spend enough time on it to sweat, because let’s face it, I couldn’t figure out how to work the damn thing), then please respect my happy place and follow a few simple rules.

Namaste.

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